Chiefs’ Fan Favorite Could Be Odd Man out After Offseason Additions

Patrick Mahomes, Derrick Gore

Getty Kansas City Chiefs teammates Patrick Mahomes II (#15) and Michael Burton (#45) celebrate a Derrick Gore (#40) touchdown on November 1, 2021.

Training camp can be fun and exciting but it can also be bittersweet. As you search to find your best 53 players, several likable fan favorites often miss the cut.

One Kansas City Chiefs bubble candidate will be running back Derrick Gore, who has been in this position a few times since joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019. His first stop was the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers but after an extremely brief stint on the practice squad, the runner signed with the Washington practice squad before heading back to LAC in 2020.

As you can see, Gore knows this process all too well but his perseverance earned him a real pro-level opportunity in Kansas City last season. The Louisiana-Monroe product took advantage, rushing for five yards per carry with two touchdowns and 12 first downs. He also contributed 105 yards through the air at a catch percentage of 88.9%.

Despite all of that, the Chiefs decided to bulk up on running backs this offseason and the fast fan-favorite will likely have his back pressed firmly against the wall in training camp once again.

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Gore Predicted to Be on ‘Outside Looking In’

During an article with FanSided’s Arrowhead Addict, NFL writer KC Proctor noted that Gore appears to be on the “outside looking in” when it comes to this crowded Kansas City backfield.

He reasoned: “McKinnon—another guy that many fans were pounding the table for last year—was rarely available, and still always got the nod over Gore. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has one of the highest disapproval ratings among any fan base in football, and he was always the guy when fully healthy… Darrel Williams was made to take on dual-threat responsibilities in Andy Reid’s scheme over Derrick Gore getting a single start. The bottom line, which seems to be glaring, all things considered, is that he’s just not the guy.”

It won’t get any easier for Gore in 2022. The Chiefs signed Ronald Jones II in March before bringing in three rookies both in the UDFA market and the draft — Isiah Pacheco, Jerrion Ealy and Tayon Fleet-Davis. They also re-signed veteran Jerick McKinnon late in the offseason, which was another bad sign.

“With ‘CEH’ at full health coming into the season for the first time in his career, Ronald Jones being paid to contribute, Jerick McKinnon brought back for depth, and a rookie class consisting of overlooked players who Brett Veach admires, there is simply no room for Gore,” Proctor concluded.

Another Chiefs writer, Caleb James of Arrowhead Live, appeared to concur with Proctor during a running back breakdown on June 26.

“I expect four to make the active roster,” James voiced, “and they will likely dress three guys a week. If CEH is truly healthy he has the tools to become the starting back, with ‘RoJo’ filling in as well, or being put in high red zone situations that could favor his speed. Pacheco will bring the value of his kick return ability, but also his raw athletic ability. His speed will be enough for the Chiefs to not risk putting him on the practice squad, and if he pans out it could turn into a steal. McKinnon is the next man up for me. He understands what the team wants to do and has the trust of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Unless they are poached by other teams I think Ealy and Fleet-Davis will both be practice squad players, with Ealy having the chance to compete at wide receiver as well.”

You’ll notice that the only man left out of James’ final roster prediction was Gore. For what it’s worth, the popular ball carrier did not make the cut in beat reporter Adam Teicher’s 53-man projection on ESPN either.

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Could We See Some Fireworks in Training Camp?

With so many quality mouths to feed at running back, the idea of a preseason trade has been floated around. James suggested that Jones could be a trade candidate if a couple of the rookies step up, while some fans have pressed the organization to deal Edwards-Helaire on social media.

Neither are substantiated rumors at this point, but it is an intriguing talking point.

Let’s say Pacheco, Ealy or Fleet-Davis hit the ground running in August — literally — is there a chance that Veach rolls with the youth over one or two of the veterans? Running back is a young man’s position after all and players like McKinnon, Jones and Gore have more tread on the tires.

Keep in mind, Edwards-Helaire and Jones are still under the age of 25 but both have carried the ball at least 300 times at the NFL level. The latter had 488 rushes with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sometimes fresh legs equal better production when the talent and health aren’t too far apart.

Of course, CEH should be miles ahead of the rest of this RB stable as a former first-round pick. 2022 profiles as a make-or-break campaign for the former LSU star and any early sign of struggle could open the door for one of these alternatives to step up and win a job.


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